Tuesday, October 20, 2009

I dare you to try this (NaNoWriMo)

I dare you to try this.

Write a novel. Well, a novella. 50,000 words. Works out to about 175 pages in MS Word.

In 30 days.

Back in 1999 a guy issued this challenge to all his friends. A lot of them tried. Some succeeded, some failed. They've been doing it for ten years now. It's grown each year, and some of these books have gotten published, a couple have even hit the New York Times bestseller list.

You may have read a 50,000-word book in school. F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby" is about that long. So is "Slaughterhouse-Five" by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. And "The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy" by Douglas Adams. If you're a Dean Koontz fan, his early book "Shattered" is about that long. But I don't think any of them wrote their books in 30 days.

Here's the rules: You start any time after 12:00 midnight when the clock rolls over to November 1 in your local time zone. Yes, that means North Carolinians get a 3 hour head start over Californians. You keep your own hours, write using whatever means are available to you, and sometime before 12:00 midnight your local time, you copy and paste your efforts into a script at their web site, and they count your words. If it's 50,000 or greater, you win. You win a printable certificate that says you did.

They don't keep your story, and they don't help you publish it. They don't give you anything if you win. They pretty much tell you how to cheat to win (well, they tell you how to turn your work into gibberish that can't be turned back into your story, for if you're paranoid and wrote porn or something you hope to publish) but discourage cheating, since you don't gain anything. It would be really stupid to cheat, though.

If you're at all interested, or if you want to see what they're all about, head on over to NaNoWriMo.org -- it stands for National Novel Writing Month. If you want more information, read this wikiHow article on how to participate in NaNoWriMo.

You know you want to do it. Everyone's got a story to tell. You got nothing to lose... except maybe your sanity.

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